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The Shape of Things to Come

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The Shape of Things to Come

Seven Imperatives for Winning in the New World of Business


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To compete in the post-information, intensely logistical, modern marketplace, go straight to your customers — and fast!

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Author Richard W. Oliver argues that speed and customer responsiveness are keys to the new world of business. To stay alive, companies must flatten their corporate structures, do away with old roles, and embrace the technology that allows data mining and Internet-based purchasing. The author predicts that in the new century companies will sell directly to consumers, job descriptions will become more fluid, and smart cards and knowbots will become ubiquitous devices. This compelling, thoughtful book examines the trends shaping the global economy. While the book isn’t always organized clearly, it illustrates its points through examples of real companies which have changed their practices. recommends this book to any owners, executives, and managers who are involved in planning long-term strategies.


The Maturing Information Age

The information age began in 1947 with the development of the transistor. That innovation led to the computer chip. The information age peaked in the late 1980s and ended in 1993, with Marc Andreessen’s development of Mosaic, the easy-to-use browser that democratized the World Wide Web. The maturity of the information age is evident in the market penetration of computers with modems and Internet connectivity, and in the falling prices of microchips, wireless phones, and powerful computers. Information age companies, such as computer manufacturers, began to suffer the same problems faced by industrial age firms: frenzied competitive environments, high cost structures, and too many employees.

The three major economic eras - the agrarian age, the industrial age and the information age - have followed S-curve life cycles. The cycle’s four phases are inception, growth, maturity, and decline. These major economic eras are getting shorter. The agrarian age spanned several centuries, the industrial age lasted two centuries, and the information age covered only fifty years.

The technological advances of each new era revolutionize the economics...

About the Author

Richard W. Oliver is a professor of management at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He has written widely on business strategy, new business and global marketing. His books include The Coming Biotech Age: The Business of Bio-Materials.

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